Despite the many paperback books to the contrary, the Bible points its readers to God, not the Devil. Similarly, the Scriptures reveal who God is, what He has done, why we are not naturally at peace with Him, and how we can be. Yet, it does give us some profound insights regarding the spiritual war we are engaged in and how we are to fight.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
First Peter 5:8
THE DEVIL'S PLOY
The Bible reveals that there is an instrument of evil and wickedness in the world who is determined to thwart God's goodness and redemptive plan. He does by deceiving people. In fact, Jesus called him the "Father of all lies" (John 8:44). He is introduced in Genesis 3 as the original liar. He is heard lying in wilderness that he can offer the Christ all the kingdoms of this world (Matt. 4). He is seen at the last supper whispering in Judas's ear that his mission to betray Jesus was a noble cause (Matt. 26). Paul states plainly that often Satan appears as "an angel of light" (2Cor. 11:14).
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Second Corinthians 11:14
The Devil is metaphorically described in Scripture as a serpent, dragon, a wolf and like a lion. These metaphors have teeth. They paint the devil as dangerous and untrustworthy. In John 10 describes the devil as a wolf who looks for the straggling sheep - particularly the lambs. The Shepherd goes out of his way to safeguard the lambs from the Devil's wolf-like attacks. To do this, he secures the sheep in the fold and goes out to seek for the straggling lamb before the wolf ravages them. The shepherd knows that when the sheep gather under his protective and caring gaze they are safe. Each sheep remembers from their lambhood that the shepherd's crook has two ends to it - the hooked end to rescue from pitfalls, and the straight end to give a love-tap on their hind legs to warn them off straying. It is the Devil's scheme to separate sheep from their flock.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
The allurement of the Devil's lies seems both believable and attractive to those sheep who make themselves vulnerable. Perhaps you know this? Our spiritual fervour and passion for the Lord is intensified or diminished by how much we are in the flock in a similar way to how close or far away a burning ember in a fire-place is to the main fire. Satan looks to lure the Word-deprived person away from the protective care of the shepherd and the safety of the assembled community of the flock.
And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.
Are you alone a lot? Do you benefit from regular healthy physical touch? Do you have time on your hands? Have you been offended and not offered heartfelt forgiveness? You may then be more vulnerable to devilsh ploys to bring you down than oterwise. We are, as the seasoned apostle wrote, not ignorant of Satan's schemes (designs, ploys, manoeveurs, strategies), as he told the Corinthians (2Cor. 2:11). If we fail to appropriately manage our space, time, and connections, we could be giving the Devil increased opportunities to snare us. Alarmingly, it is possible for the believer to position themselves into spiritual peril which is why the Apostle Paul told the Ephesian belivers, "and give no opportunity to the devil." (Eph. 4:27)
GOD'S MEANS OF GRACE FOR HIS CHILDREN
The apostle goes on to tell the Ephesian believers how to become spiritually invincible to the Devil. In chapter 6 of his epistle he describes the believer in military armour. We can easily see that God's means of sustaining and protective grace is to be found in His Word, in prayer, in acts of service, and worship - but most particularly in our church family. Of all the armour that Paul describes, he leaves the believer's back bare! But the astute reader will note that the entire epistle has been about the community of the church. The reason each believer's back is bare is because another believer has their back! This is why we pray fervently for each other - especially for our brothers and sisters in the heat of the battle-front. Individually, the believer may find God's grace in the Word and Prayer, but it is in the community of the church's fellowship that the believer discovers the riches of God's various forms of grace which strengthens them, encourages them, nourishes them, and grows them.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
When God's people come together to fulfil the seven purposes of the Church, they receive God's grace in its varying forms. It is immersed in this grace that they become spiritually invincible because they are able to put on the helmet of salvation, take up the shield of faith with which to quench the fiery darts of the Devil, wield the sword of the Spirit, protect their hearts with the breastplate of righteousness, belt up with the truth and boot up with the Gospel. This armoury allows them to live lives which testify to the greatness of God in Christ who shed His blood for them to enable them to overcome the Devil. It is my prayer that we too are fully armed and armoured with the grace of God in this day of spiritual battle. I also pray that when we experience the Enemy's schemes we will remain focussed on God and draw strength from His means of grace for us.
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.